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Exclusive Interview with Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-ray Producer Robert Meyer-Burnett

By: Ben Gourlay | Editorials in HT & Movies | Posted: Jul 26, 2012 8:46 am
Manufacturer: Paramount

TT: Well I am glad that you were able to seize the opportunity; because ultimately fans are the winners from that process. The restoration of the series has been a gargantuan effort, what has been the single biggest road block, thus far, on completing the process?


Well what I'll say is the two biggest hurdles were because the show is shot on film and the visual effects: such as the ship shots, some of them had ten different passes because you would do a beauty pass, you'll do a warp nacelle pass, you'll do a window pass, a deflector pass. Some of those elements had shrunk and they had not shrunk all at the same rate, so in order to keep the registration on the various elements they had to use computer technology to stabilize, so all of the elements would go together correctly for a lot of the ship shots and that was a massive effort that for people like compositor Eric Bruno at CBS Digital spent days and weeks making sure that was done.




I think that what you most notice about The Next Generation is the visual effects are so colorful, they're beautiful, whereas before the visual effects never looked great because they were composited on video tape at 10.4.4 480i, so there's no real black. Space didn't look black, it was this kind of grey sludge and the models didn't have the details, you couldn't see the lights and the smaller details on the ships were not visible. So when they were able to get all these elements re-composited at 2K, they just looked entirely different. I mean, the whole palette of the visual effects of the show is vibrant and bright just like the live action material is and it was amazing, but that just took a lot of effort on the behalf of people like Eric Bruno, the compositors who spent hours, days and weeks re-compositing this stuff so it would look perfect.




The other big hurdle that they had was because they reused a lot of visual effects elements; like especially ship fly by elements, so as the season went on those shots were reused and stored elsewhere, so it exists with the other year seven elements. So CBS digital had to go back and find where those shots wound up, and thanks to the copious notes that were taken by everybody from Cosmo Genovese, the script supervisor, to all of the other people that worked in visual effects, they eventually found all of these elements. But again this took a great deal of time. There's a woman, a very tenacious woman named Sarah Paul that you'll see on the Energize! documentary who will not stop, she is like a pit-bull, until she finds all the missing elements and she did, and they've basically found everything they were missing when they did the sampler for season one, they found it all and they won't stop looking until they do, which is great and those were pretty much the two biggest hurdles they had, in addition to just starting the post-production process all over again, and having to scan all that negative.




TT: Just on that point, just to clarify, has now every bit of footage from all seven seasons now been located?


Well, they've just started on season 3, so, so far yes, but it's a pain staking process and season two is being completed now and they have just started season three. I've seen shots that they're doing, like I saw a shot from The Defector, where a Romulan Warbird is pursuing the scout ship, and they've done things just to tweak the shot were they added, like before they would add to do a flash frame or something, they would do a whole white flash, well CBS Digital has taken the time to actually add green tinted bolts of phaser fire and disruptor fire and they're really sparing no time or expense to make this stuff look as good as it can be done and they sort of have this philosophy, which I found interesting, that they want to preserve the show the way as close as it was done at the time but if something really, as Mike Okuda said "˜makes our teeth ache', they will go back and change something, but for the most part they're trying to upgrade it while keeping the spirit of the way they did it originally but improve it whenever they can and I think they've just done a phenomenal job.

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